Brita Carlson, Enterprise Rose Fellow

Q: You’re an Enterprise Rose Fellow. What is the Rose Fellowship, and what was the process to become a Fellow? The fellowship is a program for emerging architects to gain experience in the affordable housing world and to bring their design talents to the affordable housing community. Frederick Rose was a developer and philanthropist in New York City who believed in the value of good design and the spirit of public service.

Q: Where did you grow up? How is it different from Los Angeles? I grew up in Rochester Minnesota. It’s a lot colder there in the winter than here! It’s much smaller, about 80-100,000 people. The climate really shapes the architecture and design there. Also, we don’t have to worry about earthquakes there!

Q: What are your likes and dislikes about Los Angeles thus far? I love that Los Angeles has all of these pockets of culture, and they’re all very different. You can hop from one area of town to another, such as Koreatown, which is full of amazing food, or then go to Venice/Santa Monica and it’s a totally different experience. I don’t like how far you have to drive to get places! The public transportation and bike infrastructure here isn’t as developed as other parts of the country.

BritaCarlsonOfficeQ: Where were you working before ACOF? I was at Neighborhood Housing Services in New Haven, CT. I was a project manager overseeing the rehabilitation of one and two-family homes for low-income first time homebuyers.

Q: What was the most interesting thing you saw when you were rehabbing those homes? We would be completely gutting a house that was 100+ year old, and the house had already had a lot of renovations. You’d see historic details that were all covered up as you peeled the layers back. One had pocket doors that had been covered up, with beautiful old wood and details that we restored.

Q: As an architect, what would you want everyone to know about design and/or being an architect? A lot of time and effort goes into designing something, and there never really is a stopping point. You can continue to design and improve, so you have to self-regulate as to when to know when the stopping point is. It’s also really understanding that design can have a huge impact on people’s lives. I studied Psychology in undergrad, and I find that architecture is the study of behavior in relation to a space, the how behavior responds to our environment.

Q: What is something surprising or interesting that you’ve learned about affordable multifamily housing development? It’s a much bigger scale than what I was doing before. I didn’t realize how much work goes into funding and predevelopment aspects of a project – the TCAC applications, the timeframes! But it’s really exciting to watch things come together and make a bigger project move forward.

Q: What are some things you hope to accomplish here at ACOF during your Fellowship? I think one thing I hope to do is bring together the differing perspectives that exist within ACOF, our communities and our residents to better inform how we design our buildings.

The Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship is funded in part with HUD Section 4 funds administered by Enterprise Community Partners.